Growing Our Conversation Skills with Socratic Seminar

We are continuing to grow our discussion skills in my 8th grade classes with a variety of conversation strategies.  Prior to Thanksgiving break, we engaged in a Socratic Seminar over a variety of related texts.   If you want to see some additional interesting twists on Socratic Seminar, check out this great blog post. While I've … Continue reading Growing Our Conversation Skills with Socratic Seminar

Accelerating Student Dialogue with Speed Dating Discussions

In recent years, I've been very intentional about integrating student discussion strategies along with the hard academic skills and soft social skills inherent in student conversations for learning.  Our state 8th grade English Language Arts standards also value speaking and listening as well as comprehension and collaboration: ELAGSE8SL1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative … Continue reading Accelerating Student Dialogue with Speed Dating Discussions

Supporting Writers in Progress: Paired Texts Study, Comparing/Contrasting, and Literary Argument Paragraphs

Earlier this month, we composed our first literary argument paragraph, a stepping stone to an extended piece of writing we'll do in early November as part of our work from the writing unit, The Literary Essay:  Analyzing Craft and Theme. Part 1:  Introducing and Immersing Ourselves in a Paired TextLet me start by backing up … Continue reading Supporting Writers in Progress: Paired Texts Study, Comparing/Contrasting, and Literary Argument Paragraphs

Exploring Characterization in “Raymond’s Run” with Playlist Stations

After our reading of "Raymond's Run", I wanted to find a way to engage students in thinking about character that would also get them up and moving since they had been sitting and doing some quiet thinking/reading work for a few days.  I decided to craft a new playlist station activity with a focus on … Continue reading Exploring Characterization in “Raymond’s Run” with Playlist Stations

Putting Students in the Driver’s Seat: Read Aloud Reading Partners

Reading partners is not a new concept; many literacy experts have written about this concept and offered best practices for implementing them into classroom life, including Smokey Daniels.  Though I don't implement them as much as I'd like to or probably should, I do love watching students in action when time and opportunity present themselves … Continue reading Putting Students in the Driver’s Seat: Read Aloud Reading Partners

Getting Ready for a Short Story with Pre-Reading Learning Stations

As you know, I love trying new learning activities and strategies.  I'm teaching a formal short story unit this year for the first time in years, and I wanted to do something fun and meaningful to kick off our first whole class story study.  This summer I purchased this bundle of awesome activities from "Write … Continue reading Getting Ready for a Short Story with Pre-Reading Learning Stations

Finding a Path into Poetry with Annotations, FSLL Charts, and Poetry Chats

Last week  (April 17) we began our exploration of poetry with an inquiry-oriented warm-up.  I presented students two documents: An annotated copy of "Alone" by Maya Angelou (annotations by me) A FSLL (Feelings, Story, Language, and Lines) that I had completed for "Alone" by Maya Angelou. Students could work alone or with a partner to … Continue reading Finding a Path into Poetry with Annotations, FSLL Charts, and Poetry Chats

Next Steps for Thinking About Theme, Central Topics, and Social Issues: Pop-Up Book Club Meetings

In my last post, I shared how we used a Lucy Calkins learning structure to think about more deeply about theme, central ideas/topics, and social issues.  Yesterday, I did two variations on some "pop-up" book club meetings to help students think through these elements. Variation #1, Periods 1 and 4 On Monday evening,  I compiled … Continue reading Next Steps for Thinking About Theme, Central Topics, and Social Issues: Pop-Up Book Club Meetings

Argumentative Writing March Madness with Post-It Note Reading, Think Tank Conversations, 11×14 Reasons and Evidence Mapping + Essay Drafting

The last five weeks have been a whirlwind here between district third quarter benchmark testing and next steps into argumentative writing, the culminating activities of the front-loading skill work we did in February (see previous blog posts, please).  I'd like to share our journey of reading, writing, and thinking with you by outlining the major … Continue reading Argumentative Writing March Madness with Post-It Note Reading, Think Tank Conversations, 11×14 Reasons and Evidence Mapping + Essay Drafting

Extending and Applying Our Inquiry Work with Kernel Essays: Next Steps

In my last post, I shared how I'm frontloading our argumentative writing unit with an emphasis on key concepts and text structure as we explored mentor texts and applied Gretchen Bernabei's kernel essay strategy to help students organize ideas.  In this post, I'll share how we extended that work and how students had opportunities to … Continue reading Extending and Applying Our Inquiry Work with Kernel Essays: Next Steps